Two Old Friends


Emery Hutchins listens and Mac McHale performs

Fishtraks recording artists Two Old Friends appeared at Kelley Library in Salem, to standing room only.  Mac McHale and Emery Hutchins, original founders of Northeast Winds, are once again delighting audiences, young and old, with music from Ireland, the mountains, and the seas.  These Two Old Friends are musicians who play and sing a unique combination of Celtic and American country music, and, in their performances, seek to show the connection between the two genres.

Over the centuries, immigrants from the British Isles have come to the Americas, bringing with them their musical styles and tastes, as well as their instruments.  With the concertina, bodhran, mandolin, octave mandolin, guitar, and banjo, Two Old Friends sing and play this traditional Celtic music, but they also perform American country music in the way it was conceived in the early twentieth century.  Through stories, songs and instrumental melodies, they demonstrate how old-time American mountain tunes are often derived directly from the songs of the Irish, yet influenced by other culture groups (the banjo comes from West African tradition) to create a new American sound.  Many of the rhythms found in American country music originated in the British Isles, and early American performers such as Uncle Dave Macon and the McGee brothers were strongly influenced by this music.  The 4/4-time signature found in Irish reels is commonly duplicated in country songs and tunes.  The lyrics also are strongly influenced by or taken directly from music of the British Isles.  For example, the ballad “Mary on the Wild Moor” is sung in both English ballad tradition and in American country music.

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A Patriotic Lunchtime Surprise

by Andrea Ganley-Dannewitz

Barron School third-graders in Mrs. Wolfe’s second grade class last year had a pleasant lunchtime surprise last Friday.  The surprise was the result of pen-pal friendships some of the students developed last year with Specialist Douglas Vallant of Bravo Troop 217 Cavalry of the 101st Airborne Division.

Last year the students in Mrs. Wolfe’s class sent letters to soldiers overseas in the 101st Airborne.  Vallant enjoyed the letters and wrote back to the students.  He came home for an 18-day leave from Afghanistan, which is the 24-year-old’s third tour of duty.

On Friday he went to Barron School to have lunch with his pen pals.  He presented Mrs. Wolfe and her former students with an American flag and certificate that it flew from his helicopter.

Mrs. Wolfe, Barron Principal Tony DiNardo and the students were honored to have a real American hero stop in for lunch.  When Vallant set foot in the room the students became quiet and were in complete awe.  Some looked at him quietly while others just had to talk to him and ask what it was like to be a soldier.  He told the students about military training, seeing far away places, and what it is like to fly.  He has been stationed in Iraq, Afghanistan and Korea.

DiNardo and Mrs. Wolfe especially thanked Mona Savastano and Vallant’s aunt, Nancy Sabin, for providing the students with the opportunity to create pen pal friendships with the soldier and for the opportunity to meet him. 

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Kiwanians Celebrate Joint Installation of Officers

Meeting at Pelham Harris Inn in Pelham, the Salem and Hudson chapter of Kiwanis inducted officers for the upcoming year.  Kiwanis is a global organization of volunteers dedicated to changing the world, one child and one community at a time.  The name “Kiwanis” means “we trade” or “we share our talents.”  It was coined from an American Indian expression, “nunc kee-wanis.”

Kiwanians develop youth as leaders, build playgrounds, raise funds for pediatric research and much more.  No problem is too big or too small.  Working together, members achieve what one person cannot accomplish alone.  When you give a child a chance to learn, experience, dream and succeed great things happen!  There are more tan 8,000 clubs in 96 countries with more than 260,000 adult members and approximately 320,000 youth.  Members and clubs have contributed more than $80 million toward the global elimination of iodine deficiency disorders (IDD), the leading preventable cause of mental retardation.


Salem Kiwanis president Howie Zidel presents Sarah Johnson Hopkins with her Kiwanis pin as a new member.

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Palin Visits Salem High School

by Robyn Hatch

Vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin graced the stage at Salem High School for a much-desired rally for presidential hopeful John McCain.  There were thousands of excited people waving signs, chanting, clapping, and waiting for this lady from Alaska.  Before arrival, John Sununu, Jennifer Horne, and Kurt Shilling’s wife all had a few moments to express positive thoughts to the crowd.  When Sarah finally arrived, there was a welcoming that could be heard all over the high school area.  This meeting was very well-organized and orderly for the huge amount of people that attended.  Excitement for the election was very evident!


John Sununu, Sarah Palin and Jennifer Horne

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Fisk Students Attend National Conference 

Four fifth grade students from Mary A. Fisk Elementary School attended the Junior National Young Leaders Conference this past August in Washington, D.C.  The goal of this program is to introduce students to the concepts of leadership including:  character, communication, goal setting, respect, problem solving and teamwork.  Students were nominated by teachers based on their academic achievement and leadership potential.  These students attended the Fisk PTA meeting this month to share their experiences.  Pictured are James Devlin, Amber Chopelas, Olivia Redden, and Trinity Davis. 

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